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More information about Marriott's Way improvements

Aims of the scheme

Norfolk County Council (NCC), in partnership with Norwich City Council, Broadland District Council and South Norfolk Council made an application to the Department for Transports (DfT) Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) to deliver a range of schemes along identified corridors with the aim of making it easier to access jobs, training and retail areas by making improvements to support sustainable modes of transport. Increasing the number of journeys made by low carbon, sustainable modes of transport is a key aim of the council's environmental strategy and the TCF with a significant focus on public transport, cycling and walking. To increase the number of cyclists and pedestrians, it is important to provide the correct environment and make the experience enjoyable and safe which this scheme aims to achieve.

Why the work is necessary

Marriott's Way is a 26-mile footpath and cycle route, which follows the routes of two disused railway lines, and runs between the historic market town of Aylsham and Norwich. It forms part of the National Cycle Network (NCN) (Route 1) and the red route of Norwich's Pedal ways cycle path network and is also part of the North Seas Cycle Trail. The current route of the Marriott's Way in this location via Gunton Lane is indirect, involves a sub-standard width shared use path alongside Hellesdon Road and an uncontrolled crossing of busy Marl Pit Lane. The existing route is currently uneven, overgrown with trees and foliage and is of sub-standard width to adequately cater for pedestrians and cyclists. This project will overcome these problems by providing a safer and more direct route utilising the original alignment of Marriott's Way, making it accessible to all and supporting the aims stated above.

Safety of the area

The scheme aims to make walking and cycling safer and more convenient but is not being delivered in response to previous incidents concerning safety. The focus concerns accessibility and making the Marriott's Way as accessible as possible in order to increase the number of people cycling and walking using the route.

Outcomes of the scheme

Utilising the existing alignment of the disused railway line will provide a more direct, safer and more comfortable journey for all users by:

  • Introducing a new parallel crossing where pedestrians and cyclists are segregated which will be located on a 75mm high raised table on Hellesdon Road to slow traffic down on the approaches to link the two sections of Marriott's Way that are bisected by Hellesdon Road. This will include an upgrade to the street lighting at the new crossing
  • Providing a 3-metre wide shared use 'sealed surface' path for pedestrians and cyclists between Hellesdon Road and Gunton Lane car park
  • Resurfacing the Hellesdon Road carriageway between Marl Pit Lane/Hellesdon Road junction and Hellesdon Bridge with an increased friction surface on the approach to the proposed parallel crossing

Tree removal

It isn't the council's intention to have any adverse impacts on any natural habitat. We will always seek to avoid this wherever possible and any necessary tree removal is given the upmost consideration.

As the existing narrow and uneven path runs through a wooded area, some tree removal is necessary in order to provide the new, more accessible and direct facility.

Officers have worked closely with tree specialists in developing the plans to identify the category and condition of all trees in this location and decide appropriate measures to minimise the impact of any tree removal.

A total of 13 Category B, moderate quality trees (i.e. impaired condition) and 41 Category C, low quality trees (i.e. trees of very limited merit/highly impaired condition) will need to be removed, but will be replaced with 48 new ones, in this location and elsewhere along the route.

The replacement trees will include a minimum of eight heavy standard trees (12-14 cm stem girth) and 40 bare-root trees (1-2 m height).

Other vegetation and low-quality trees do not require replacement, with the assessments carried out indicating that the additional space created will allow for natural regeneration and enhance the natural habitat in the longer term.

Protection of wildlife

We work closely with ecology specialists in conducting all works of this nature and it has been agreed that all vegetation works (e.g. tree or hedge cutting) or site clearance will be undertaken outside of the nesting season, prior to the end of February.

Woodland management and biodiversity

We are working with Norwich City Council, Norwich Fringe Project and The Marlpit Community Garden to make sure that wildlife habitats and biodiversity are protected and enhanced as part of this work.

It is necessary to remove some trees and scrub at the edge of the path to allow widening to take place because the route has become denser in recent years, restricting the access and space for people. This will be undertaken outside the bird nesting period and the material produced will be kept close by as specially-designed habitat piles. These will provide homes for hedgehogs, toads, frogs, bank voles, insects, and small birds such as wrens and robins to nest in.

There is a variety of woodland trees within the works area, some were planted and others self-sown. In addition to the path works, our aim is to increase the diversity of the wood by planting more trees, as well as creating open habitats for wildflowers and insects. Working with the Marlpit Community Garden, we will plant fruit trees such as cherry and plum that have important early pollen for bees and other insects that work hard pollinating the crops grown on the allotment.

Why woodland management is necessary

Woodlands that are actively managed tend to be better for wildlife than neglected woods. In neglected woods, the trees are often of a uniform age and structure, the canopy is often closed, and many species below are shaded out. A healthy woodland has a range of ages and heights of trees within it, with canopy gaps and rides and edges providing a range of habitats for a wider variety of wildlife.

Consultations carried out

Consultation with local residents, statutory consultees and other key stakeholders took place between 18 - 30 August 2020. All responses can be viewed in the report submitted to the October meeting of the Transforming Cities Joint Committee (agenda item 6).

Approval of decisions

The Department for Transport approved funding for this scheme in September 2020 as part of our wider package of proposed improvement projects across Greater Norwich contained in our application to the Transforming Cities Fund.

Local councillors then considered the proposal along with all feedback from the consultation when the report was presented at the October meeting of the Transforming Cities Joint Committee and voted to proceed with the scheme. Minutes from the meeting can be viewed here. This scheme represents 'Very High Value for Money' in terms of government appraisal.

Funding for the work

The costs of delivering this project are being met through funding from the Department for Transport's Transforming Cities Fund and local highway maintenance budgets.

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